Nearly half of American adults will develop knee arthritis at some point during their lives. Pain, stiffness, and limited mobility are often the result of knee arthritis. Knee replacement surgery can relieve pain and restore function when your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury. The average recovery time from knee replacement surgery is approximately six months, but it can take roughly 12 months to fully return to physically demanding activities. Though the recovery process can be long, there are steps you can take to heal well and enhance your recovery speed.
What does knee replacement surgery involve?
The team at Tri-State Orthopaedics provide the latest advancements in treating chronic knee problems. When conservative options aren’t enough, your provider may recommend knee replacement surgery. Also called arthroplasty, this procedure involves replacing the structure of the damaged knee joint with metal and plastic parts to restore the normal function of the knee and relieve chronic pain.
Knee replacement is an incredibly common and successful procedure. Over 90% of people who have knee replacement experience significant improvement in pain and their ability to get around. For most people, knee replacement restores a good quality of life, giving back independence and allowing you to engage in activities you used to enjoy. However, recovery is often a long road. If you’re scheduled for or considering knee surgery, here are some helpful dos and don’ts in your path to recovery.
Effectively manage pain
People used to think that severe pain following knee replacement surgery was something you just had to push through. In fact, properly managing pain helps reduce discomfort and speed your recovery. Because pain is subjective, it’s crucial to accurately describe and pinpoint the location and intensity of the pain. Your care team needs to know whether the pain is constant or intermittent and whether it’s sharp, tingling, or burning, among other things.
Though it’s reasonable to expect some discomfort after knee replacement surgery, an effective pain management program can significantly reduce your level of pain and help boost the speed of your recovery.
Walk as soon as possible
Recovery from joint replacement surgery isn’t always easy, but getting back on your feet as soon as the doctor says it’s okay can help you recover. Walking helps prevent complications like blood clots, improves circulation, and keeps your joints limber. You don’t have to wait until you return home after surgery. Most patients can start walking while still in the hospital. Walking helps deliver important nutrients to your knee to help you heal and recover. You can expect to use a walker for the first couple of weeks. Most patients can walk on their own roughly four to eight weeks after knee replacement.
Physical therapy is a crucial part of recovering from knee replacement surgery. At home and at the rehab clinic a physical therapist will show you exercises that will help your knee heal. Even if you’re feeling well and confident, it’s vital to continue physical therapy as it can help speed your recovery. Physical therapy will help strengthen your leg, help you walk, and restore the movement of your knee joint.
In addition to the healing movements you perform during physical therapy, it’s important to exercise. This is different from the movements you learn in physical therapy. Engaging in safe physical activity helps your muscles get stronger and helps you heal quickly. Remember, although exercise is important, it shouldn’t cause pain. It’s normal to want to heal as quickly as possible. However, pushing yourself too hard can cause a setback. Your team can tell you what type of exercises are safe for you to perform, which might include extra walks or riding on an elliptical machine.
Many patients are eager to recover, and it’s normal to feel this way. Did you know that rest is just as important to your recovery? Balancing movement with getting enough rest is necessary to heal from knee replacement surgery. For the first few months, you may have some mild-to-moderate swelling of the affected knee. Getting the appropriate rest and keeping your leg elevated, as well as applying ice, can help boost healing time.
Knee replacement surgery often changes lives. You can recover well with the help of the team at Tri-State Orthopaedics. To learn more, call our Germantown or Memphis, Tennessee locations to schedule an appointment or book online.